Sport and Specialty has been steadily expanding since it’s founding in 1991. We are a 10,500+ square foot facility with all storage, body, most paint, drive line, and mechanical work done under one roof, by our own people. We install our own interiors, but typically sub contract; fabric, leather and soft top trimming. We do subcontract engine rebuild machining, chroming, instrument refurbishment, and other specialty work which can be done less expensively by experts. It is safe to say we virtually do everything in house but sew and chrome.
The shop is broken up into discreet work areas for storage, body and mechanical disassembly and fabrication, paint and paint finishing, driveline rebuilding, engine rebuilding, restoration re-assembly, and general repair and maintenance. We have additional storage for finished cars and a plentiful inventory of used Austin Healey and Jaguar parts.
Since 2013, a significant investment has been made in new tools, parts, fixtures, and technology in pursuit of additional marques and a broader enthusiast base. We strive to make Sport and Specialty a safe, clean, and productive workplace. We believe true craftsmanship should be rewarded with a first class working environment. There are expansion plans underway to add additional staff when necessary and enhance our ability to turn our work around more quickly. Stay tuned.
The main emphasis of our work here is true mechanical and cosmetic automotive restorations. We won’t simply paint any vintage sports car and deem it restored. Our goal is to work with our customers to bring a car back to as an original condition as we possibly can. This doesn’t mean we only do total nut and bolt restorations. In fact, we openly communicate with our customers the exact nature of their wishes for their prized possessions. In most cases we strive to preserve as many original parts as possible, which may include leaving original wear and patina. What it doesn’t mean is that we will ever provide work that is unsafe or will not stand up to normal owner use. We want all cars delivered from our shop to both present well, and be mechanically sound.
Before embarking on a full restoration, it is normal for us to have a lengthy conversation with the owner, as well as survey the car needing the work. We look to typically tailor our work to the customer’s desires for use, (driver, minimal use weekends, show car, rally participant, etc.). We also look to match, as much as possible, the projected restoration costs to the anticipated value of the completed vehicle. In some cases, unless the car possesses sentimental value to the owner, a restoration may simply not be financially feasible, as the cost of a restoration may greatly exceed the car’s finished value. Some cars should just simply not be restored.
In other cases, not doing a high quality restoration on a certain car can be just as foolhardy. In the case of high value cars with high collector car market appeal, special designations, or limited production numbers, a minimally, or poorly, restored car has very little increased value, as a potential buyer will typically see a proper restoration at some point in their future. Although, a well preserved original car may be best served by a sympathetic restoration, preserving as much originality as possible.
We are very flexible and work very closely with our customers to provide them with a happy outcome. Be it a sympathetic mechanical/cosmetic, gorgeous driver level, or full out concours level show winning restoration, we will strive to make you completely happy. Give us a call to discuss your thoughts and ideas!
Routine Service and Maintenance
To keep classic and vintage cars reliable and safe, they need to be inspected and maintained on a regular basis. Vintage engines, drivetrain, and suspension components were designed with regular maintenance performed at specific mileage and time intervals in mind. It’s a good practice to have your car professionally inspected annually if possible.
We have maintenance specifications for virtually all British, Italian, and American cars on the shelf, with most others available through our on line subscriptions. We can perform simple oil and filter changes, tune ups and carb adjustments, as well as marque specific lubrications and testing of specific ignition and electrical components.
Also, if a car has been stored, and not used regularly, there is a high likelihood of failures due to dried out gaskets and seals, and rust accumulation. Excessive rust in the cooling system is usually present. Issues with dried out fuel residue in the fuel tank, fuel pump and carbs are common. Brakes also are prone to deterioration. Calipers and master cylinders are especially prone to failures due to seal degradation and rust issues. A thorough inspection will pinpoint these trouble areas.
Paint and Body Work
All fabrication, body work and most painting is done in-house. Our expertise includes; Chassis and frame repairs and replacements, interior and trunk floor repairs and replacements, as well as all types of shroud, door and fender rebuilding. We have decades of experience in making sure your car is straight, true and the gaps and fit are first rate. A top-notch paint job requires a high level of prep. Nice paint on poor quality body work is a waste of time and money. Improper preparation and surface finishing will show up down the road as the paint continues to shrink over time. It always does! We use a variety of high quality paint systems, based on the applications and what is needed for the vehicle. We have general color matches for most marques and work with our customers on specific shades or wants when we have the option. Our paintwork has won our customers numerous awards and has stood the test of time on many vehicles.
We do virtually all engine and driveline component rebuilds in house. For any exotic or unique marques or builds, we use a specialist if unique tools or techniques are employed. Typical engine rebuilds include generally all 4 and 6 cylinder BMC and Jaguar engines, Ford fours, and most Alfa Romeos. This also includes most American V8s, etc. Virtually all BMC / Jaguar transmissions, ODs and differentials, can be done here, to include E Type IRS units.
Engine rebuilds include a complete strip down and analysis of wear and tear, and a recommendation for depth of rebuild. Where we can, and if available, we upgrade to more robust materials and modern designs. Modern pistons, valves, guides and seats are usually available for most of these engines. When we can, we also look to use better designs for rear main seals and other typical points of failure on older designs. Dyno services are available for all rebuilds.
Transmissions and Overdrives
We can generally rebuild all BMC and Jaguar XK type transmissions and overdrive units. In fact, we rebuild a fair amount of these units for other shops around the Midwest. Complete disassembly and rebuilds require a fair amount of time and expertise. The most difficult part of the transmission and overdrive rebuilds these days are locating the parts needed when unique pieces wear out. While we have a significant stock of spare parts, in some case only new will do to insure proper reliability. Give us a call. No need to drive with a clunky transmission or without an operating OD unit.
Differentials, Rear Axles, and IRS units
Properly rebuilding a differential unit, either open, or limited slip, requires a high level of experience and expertise. Proper measurements and adjustments are essential to the correct operation of the gear set. Appropriate factory adjusted lash, torque and centering must be adhered to for long lasting operation. In addition to standard tube style axle units, we have significant experience in E Type independent rear suspension rebuilds. The time and effort involved in simply dropping the IRS units means the job must be done right the first time
We have spent many years installing both interiors and convertible tops. All sports cars can benefit from fresh leather, fabric and vinyl. The proper fit for the interior and top will make all the difference in how comfortable the car is in both good and bad weather.
Many times the difference between a really nice looking car and just an average driver level restoration is in the interior details. Whether you choose a kit or a custom cut and sewn interior, we can accommodate you. Even pre-made kits benefit from a professional fitting and installation. It is important to make sure the seat frames are solid and work well, not pinching or wearing against the new leather or vinyl. Carpeting should lay flat against the floor and not wrinkle in the corners. We are also a Kool Mat distributor, allowing us to make your car less of an oven, and more of a joy in the precious Midwest driving months. While the sewing is done off-site, our cars never leave our shop to have their interiors installed. Our work can continue. We work closely with a well respected local upholstery trimmer to get every detail just right. Even the thickness and height of the foam rubber, and the distance to the pedals all go into restoring a car’s interior. Plus they just drive and feel better.
A poorly fitting top will aggravate you forever. We typically start with the top frame and insure that all of the frame bows are true, and the rivets and fasteners are usable. This means on the car, as well as at the attachment points for the top. The top, frame, and body attachment points all work together to form a solid structure. We also look to ensure the side curtains and windows meet and seal as well as possible. Side window seals and the front bow should also be as weathertight as possible. The top should retract and erect in a reasonably smooth manner. All clamping hardware and snaps should look clean, neat, work well. Our experienced trimmer has done some great work for us. Again, it makes the whole car much more livable and enjoyable.
Classic Car Support
Some of the most important work we do can happen outside the shop. Helping you find that right classic car, making sure it’s the right car, getting that car to you, and even teaching you how to get it on a race track and some of the support services that Sport and Specialty offers.
With the growth of internet based automobile buying and selling, the chances of making sure all parties are happy and satisfied are increased with a PPI (Pre Purchase Inspection.) We can inspect the car at the shop or on the road. We have even given close looks at cars during the auction process. While it is impossible to guarantee long term roadworthiness, a quick look at a car’s exterior body condition, paint quality, interior condition, frame alignment, and a test drive can sure separate the good from the non-so-nice cars on the market today. Just give us a call or email us. Typical shop rates apply and can save lots of frustration.
Vintage Racing Services
Getting inoperable cars to and from a repair or restoration facility can often be an unnecessary burden. Also, most long auto transportation companies will not bother with non-rolling vehicles and cars in pieces. We offer flexible pricing options from pick up and delivery to long distance hauling. We have two enclosed trailers, an open trailer, and two æ ton trucks available to handle our customer immediate customer needs, with custom shipping options a phone call away.